Department of Agriculture
USDA to Make Up to $1.15 Billion Available to Help People Living in Rural Communities Access High-Speed Internet
On November 24 the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin accepting applications for up to $1.15 billion in loans and grants to expand the availability of broadband in rural areas.
US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has begun accepting applications for up to $1.15 billion in loans and grants to help people in rural areas get access to high-speed internet through the ReConnect Program. This announcement comes on the heels of the recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides another nearly $2 billion in additional funding for the ReConnect program. USDA anticipates issuing a new Notice of Funding Opportunity to make the additional funds in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law available in 2022.
USDA Seeks Comments on Farm Bill Changes to Help Expand Access to Capital for Rural Broadband Infrastructure Deployment
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking public comment on a direct final rule to help expand access to capital to deploy broadband infrastructure in rural areas. The changes apply to USDA’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Loan Guarantees program and are in accordance with the provisions of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the Farm Bill). The Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Loan Guarantees program provides investment capital to eligible entities to help deploy telecommunications infrastructure, including broadband facilities in rural areas.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $167 million in 12 states to deploy broadband infrastructure in rural areas without sufficient access to high-speed internet. These investments are part of the $550 million Congress allocated to the second round of the ReConnect Program as well as other funds made available for the program since 2018.
The United States Department of Agriculture is investing $21 million to provide broadband service in rural areas in New York without sufficient access to broadband. This investment is part of the $550 million Congress allocated to the second round of the ReConnect Program. Empire Long Distance Corporation will use an $11.3 million ReConnect grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network.
The Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development (RD) is seeking applications for the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC) from eligible entities to provide technical assistance and training to rural communities for placemaking planning and implementation. This funding opportunity will be administered by the USDA Rural Development Innovation Center and is authorized by the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2021, to provide up to $3 million in competitive cooperative agreement funds.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program grants to help provide educational and medical services in rural areas. The DLT program helps fund distance learning and telemedicine services in rural areas to increase access to education, training, and health care resources that are otherwise limited or unavailable. USDA plans to make $44.5 million available in fiscal year 2021. Of this amount, $10.2 million is intended for projects that provide substance use disorder treatment services in rural areas.
The Department of Agriculture announced Edyael Casaperalta was named Senior Policy Advisor for the Rural Utilities Services agency. Casaperalta is an attorney who has supported indigenous and underrepresented communities in telecommunications matters. Most recently, she served as ACI Project Manager for AMERIND, the only 100-percent Tribally owned insurance provider in the United States, where she supported the company’s efforts to bring high-speed broadband to Tribal Nations, businesses, and communities.
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a Rural Development agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), issued a final rule to establish the Rural eConnectivity Program. The Rural eConnectivity Program provides loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas. This rule describes the eligibility requirements, the application process, the criteria that will be used by RUS to assess applicants’ creditworthiness and outlines the application process.